Our culture is seemingly without true society and full of disintegrating relationships. Many have little opportunity to experience the giving or receiving of heartfelt concern and love of our neighbor. Individuals are lonely in a crowded room and there is more rejection and isolation than can be borne by the frailty of the human soul. Thus, we always hope to cause community to grow. A Christianity which does not begin with the individual never begins, but Christianity which ends with the individual simply ends. Fellowship is a required essential to healthy living.
Note this pattern of the early church from Acts 2:46-47: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
In the temple they found their theological teaching, their creed, and their guiding principles of faith, but from house to house they met the relational needs of the congregation with the result of church growth. This balance of principle and people, of faith learned and faith lived, ought to underscore again the saying, ‘No man is an island’ and, more certainly, the Biblical truth that we are membered to one another.
The small group affords us the most meaningful relationships and the temple experience (i.e., the church service) affords us the creedal underpinnings we need. The Greek for ‘fellowship’ or ‘community’ is the word, ‘koinonia” which assumes commitment. It is also translated as ‘partnership’ and ‘sharer.’ It is much more than assembling together, singing together or eating together; it is living together or sharing in the life of another.
It is in this small group setting that believers get their deepest needs listened to and responded to. It is in these house-to-house settings that believers can be developing their spiritual giftings. This is where the kingdom of God becomes an oasis in an increasingly impersonal world and our personal lives prosper best.
Take note of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ obvious support of heaven’s principle of communion observed in the following scriptures:
Mt. 11:2 “And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples...”
Mt. 18:16 “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’”
Mt. 18:19-20 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”
Jesus declared and apparently lived under the belief that God’s presence and His own post- resurrection presence was especially manifest in a gathering. In the assembly of believers the Lord shows up to give protection, guidance, direction, comfort, deliverance, etc. The simple truth is that although we are often unable to succeed individually, together we can.
Eccl. 4:9-12 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
Clearly, the Lord believes “No man is an island”. The phrase ‘one another’ occurs more than 50 times in the New Testament epistles in a variety of ways, describing the many situations in which Christians are to love one another. Each ‘one another’ is a verb, an action. As indicated earlier, membership in the church is much more than regular attendance at worship services; it is the fellowship and love of Christians for each other.
By Biblical standards, we miss the mark to the degree that our love and care within the church is not unique to society and so different from the culture that non-Christians who see it have no doubt that we are truly Christians. The design of the “Temple” service (large group assembling as on Sunday or Wednesday) is not suited to this but the small group fellowship is. We need a new way to think things through and to arrive at conclusions that honor God: John 13:34-35 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
We derive strength from one another in relationship. I pray you rediscover the special manifest presence of the Lord in the fellowship of the saints: Lord, help us to love. Help us to love in demonstrable ways. Transform our way to Your ways, so that the world will see a people who give preference to one another, do not judge one another, edify one another, care for one another, forgive one another, comfort one another, bear one another’s burdens, and stir one another to higher and greater love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.